Tracking My Site's Visitors

About two months ago, I put Extreme Tracking's site tracker on the pages of my web site (excluding the bulk of the genealogy pages, as there were just too many to add the code to). Since then, it's been very interesting to see the pages that lead people to my site. But it's been especially surprising to see the searches people run that led them to my pages.

The Band Name Fodder page gathers some of the weirder phrases -- I even added a few to the list, like "Nude Elves" (which a surprising number of people have searched for) and "Amish Nipples." I can't imagine what the people running these searches expected to find. Or maybe I just don't want to think about it.

But what really creeps me out are the searches some people have made that led them to my diaries or personal essays. Stuff like "7th grade girls nude" or "mom aunt incest threesome." Sometimes I snicker at the fact that they're getting my pages instead of the sick crap they were looking for -- it serves them right. And I certainly hope that a good number of the people looking for naked pictures of middle-schoolers are middle-schoolers themselves; I certainly would have been willing to look at some of my classmates or other boys of my ages at that time. But the likelihood is high that some number, who knows what percentage, of those searches are run by pedophilic jerks like my grandfather who have already or have the desire to screw up kids' lives by intimidating them into actions they don't really understand and aren't ready for, messing up their future relationships emotionally. I don't want such people to have even as much contact with me as reading my web page entails, they disgust me so much. Logically, I know that it's possible reading what I've written might make sexual abusers, actual or possible, think about the wrongness of what they're doing, so I don't quite mind those searches that end up on the essays. But those searches that end up on my childhood diaries or some of my fiction might feed the illness of the searchers, and that bothers me.

I put up my childhood diaries in hope of helping people understand or remember those years of life. I put my fiction up so that people could read it and think. I hope they accomplish that for the people who find them, and these searches show I'm not in much danger of only preaching to the choir.

But tracking the searches makes one aware of the supreme importance of diction. One word can draw an audience you never expected (like the word "nude" being used in a discussion of the movie Brighton Beach Memoirs in one of those diaries). On the other hand, the right words -- the synonyms and related terms in nonfiction, the perfect phrase in any writing -- can draw the audience you wanted and more. The Web is great that way; you can't search the insides of a print work so easily. I didn't want to self-censor just to avoid drawing creeps, though I did break down and change a few words in the diaries to "unclothed," with a note that it wasn't the original phrasing. But the time spent considering the good that words can do and the importance of getting the best possible words can only help me as a writer. A little shuddering over some sickos is a small price to pay for what help, what amusement, what information can be given to others by the things I have on my site.

(I'm not the only one surprised by the searches; check out the Disturbing Search Requests weblog and see other people in the same situation.)

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